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Akaroa Swim with Dolphins Tour from Christchurch

Christchurch, New Zealand
Akaroa Swim with Dolphins Tour from Christchurch

From US$202.05

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Up to 7 days in advance. Learn more
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Safety measures
icon9 hours  (approx.)
Hotel pickup offered
Mobile ticket
iconOffered in: English
Good for avoiding crowds


Enjoy a unique opportunity to swim with dolphins in the wild during an Akaroa Harbour cruise. Strap on your provided wetsuit, flippers and snorkel gear, then slip into the water to swim alongside inquisitive Hector’s dolphins. This full-day trip from Christchurch includes a drive through the South Island countryside to Akaroa. You’ll admire breathtaking points of interest such as Governor’s Bay and Lake Ellesmere en route, enjoy free time to explore Akaroa, then visit a cheese factory for a tasting session in Barry's Bay.
  • 9-hour Akaroa dolphin swim experience, from Christchurch
  • Admire beautiful scenery on route to Akaroa, such as Governor’s Bay, Gebbies Pass and Lake Ellesmere
  • Watch out for seals and penguins from your boat in Akaroa harbour
  • Jump into the sea and swim with wild Hector’s dolphins
  • Marvel at the volcanic coastal scenery
  • Enjoy free time to explore the many fine craft shops in town
  • Visit a local cheese factory to taste fine New Zealand cheeses
  • Includes round-trip travel from centrally located Christchurch hotels
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Cheese tasting at Barry's Bay
Live commentary on board
Air-conditioned vehicle
Hotel pickup and drop-off
Wet suit hire
Use of Snorkeling equipment
Food and drinks, unless specified

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8:30 AM
This day trip includes the chance to swim with Hector’s dolphins — one of the world’s smallest dolphin species — in Akaroa Harbour, a waterway teeming with marine life.

After a morning pickup from your Christchurch hotel, enjoy a comfortable coach drive to the coastal town of Akaroa, passing breathtaking natural landmarks such as Governor’s Bay, Gebbies Pass, Lake Ellesmere, Lake Forsyth and Little River.

On arrival, embark on a dolphin cruise over Akaroa Harbour. Keep an eye out for penguins and seals, and search the waters for curious and playful Hector’s dolphins — commonly sighted among the waves. 

When your captain has located a pod, don your wetsuit, mask, snorkel and flippers then slip into the water. Since these endangered marine mammals are completely wild in their natural habitat, touching them is not permitted, but simply ducking down beneath the waves to marvel at the magnificent dolphins makes for an unforgettable experience. 

After the return journey to Akaroa, enjoy free time for lunch (own expense), and explore the craft shops and French colonial buildings in this charming corner of the South Island. Your guide then accompanies you to a Barry's Bay cheese factory for a tasting session of fine New Zealand cheeses.

Your full-day tour concludes with the return drive to Christchurch, with drop-off at your hotel.
  • Confirmation will be received at time of booking
  • Children must be 8 years and over to swim with the Dolphins
  • Customers must declare any pre-existing medical conditions. A basic level of fitness is required. Customers will be floating in the water and will be required to swim to and from the boat - distances up to 50 meters (150 feet) at a time.
  • Minimum 4 adults required before tour can operate
  • Not wheelchair accessible
  • Near public transportation
  • Most travelers can participate
  • This tour/activity will have a maximum of 50 travelers
  • OPERATED BY Leisure Tours
You can cancel up to 7 days in advance of the experience for a full refund.
  • Any changes made less than 6 full days before the experience’s start time will not be accepted.
  • For a 50% refund, you must cancel 3–6 full days before the experience’s start time.
  • If you cancel less than 2 full days before the experience’s start time, the amount you paid will not be refunded.
  • Any changes made less than 2 full days before the experience’s start time will not be accepted.
  • For a full refund, you must cancel at least 7 full days before the experience’s start time.
  • Cut-off times are based on the experience’s local time.
  • This experience requires good weather. If it’s canceled due to poor weather, you’ll be offered a different date or a full refund.
  • This experience requires a minimum number of travelers. If it’s canceled because the minimum isn’t met, you’ll be offered a different date/experience or a full refund.

Learn more about cancellations.

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25 Reviews

Reviews by Viator travelers

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Showing 1-10 of 25 reviews
Cutest dolphins
, Feb 2020
Frindly, funny and professional guided. Wonderdul landscape, very scenic. The dolphins come very close to the boat and are very gute. Unfortunately they did not want to swim with us. However it was still a wonderful day and we got a partial refond.
icon Response from Host , Mar 2020
Thank you Marianne for the positive review of your Akaroa Swim with Dolphin Tour from Christchurch. I'm happy you had such a nice time on this tour, particularly with the driver/guide who joined you on the day of travel. I'll be sure to pass on your kind words. I'm sorry to hear that the dolphins did not want to swim with your group on the day of travel (which doesn't happen very often), but it's great to hear that they came so close to the boat and that it was all squared with Black Cat Cruises. Thanks again and I hope you get to return to Christchurch and Akaroa soon!
Splendid swim (even in winter!)
, Jun 2019
I absolutely loved the guides told us in the beginning how this wonderful adventure is set up against a backdrop of ecotourism. They track the dolphins using nothing but their eyes and gave us clear instructions on how (not) to interact with the dolphins. Even in the winter time swimming with dolphins is a fantastic thing to do, as the wetsuits will keep you warm and all set for an enchanting encounter with these amazing creatures.
icon Response from Host , Jun 2019
Thank you for the awesome review! I am pleased you enjoyed our Akaroa Swim with Dolphins tour. The good people at Black Cat are really committed to the conservation of the harbour and the protection of its local Hector's Dolphins. This really adds to the experience as people find out about their conservation work while getting to learn more about one of the worlds smallest and rarest dolphin. And yes, even in winter it is still a great time to swim with dolphins thanks to their dry suits. Though I have yet to swim the dolphins of Akaroa, I have swam with the Dusky Dolphins of Kaikoura during the winter months, and I too thoroughly enjoyed the experience! Thanks again for a great review and we hope you return to New Zealand again soon!
This was awesome. Our tour guides...
Gail M
, Mar 2018
This was awesome. Our tour guides were extremely knowledgeable about marine and mammal life and the fast boat ride was fun too. Best of all was swimming with a pod of seven dolphins that were friendly and exuberant to the point of jumping out of the water!! We didn't want to leave and they hung around as long as we did. Well done Black Cat tours. The rest of the trip was great also. Our driver took us on the scenic route for great photo ops and fun pit stops on the way. Overall a really great day.
Unfortunately due to weather I was...
Michael Z
, Dec 2017
Unfortunately due to weather I was unable to swim with the dolphins - instead was placed on the Akaroa harbour boat tour which was still amazing. Hamish the audio guide on board was spectacular and extremely knowledgable about all forms of wildlife and the history of the location. The staff on board were friendly and welcoming, and I appreciated the chances we had to simply drift and take in the scenery. Bravo!
1 traveler found this review helpful
Sorry - can not give some advices...
Sonja S
, Jan 2017
Sorry - can not give some advices regarding this trip, because it has been cancelled. which to me I am very sad about it Unfortunately still wait for my refund through your organization viator.
A really pleasant day. A relaxing...
, Jan 2017
A really pleasant day. A relaxing ride to Akaroa and then a couple of hours on the water in search of dolphins. We did manage to see quite a few along with some penguins. After that some time in town for lunch before departing for Christchurch. A fun day trip.
this is the worst tour I've ever...
, Jan 2016
this is the worst tour I've ever done I put ☆ because I can't put zero It was wasting time and money. I do NOT recommend this company.
Had an amazing time with the...
Kai A
, Dec 2015
Had an amazing time with the Dolphins and will remember this day for ever.... So stunning and beautiful!!! However please please make sure to call the tour operator if you choose to be picked up from your hotel!... I was told a certain time but had to call them after waiting for an hour for them to arrive! They then told me they wouldn't be able to drop me back off at the end of the day Gratefully the coach did drop me at my hotel I think more information needs to be put on this advert... You are picked up by minivan and dropped into the city center were you transfer to a separate coach company that transport you to Akaroa with amazing stops on the way.... But I will defiantly be contacting the tour operator after their attitude towards their customers .... But the swim made up for it all to be honest!
I purchased this for my daughter...
Deborah S
, Dec 2014
I purchased this for my daughter, who was vacationing in New Zealand. She said it was AMAZING. There were around 30 dolphins playing with them. They swam and played with them for a long time and had a blast. Highlight of her trip. I'd also like to commend the tour operator for their flexibility. We had to change the date of the tour 3 times and they were always very accommodating.
Great time! It took a bit to find...
Tammy D
, Jan 2014
Great time! It took a bit to find some dolphins, but they came around. And getting Hot Chocolate after being in the water was a great touch.
I can highly recommend swimming with...
Nicola A
, Feb 2013
I can highly recommend swimming with the Dolphins! They are so beautiful and in the wild, an experience I will never forget. And the pickup, transfer etc also all went smoothly. Do it!
Ddint find any dolphins the day I...
Sophie S
, Jun 2011
Ddint find any dolphins the day I went-bad luck and that's nature of course. But having loved the Kaikoura dolphin swim I was really guted this one didn't work out and I didn't have time to try again. I'm sure if you find the dolphins it's amazing so dont pay too much notice to this review! Word of warning: at the moment (May/June 2011) Christchurch isnt very busy so this tour may not happen at all, or not on the day you want it to. My 2 dolphin swims got moved around to fit in with numbers so you may need to be flexible.
It was a highlight to swim with the...
Scott R
, Oct 2010
It was a highlight to swim with the Hector dolphins. The dolphin swim was the best part of this trip, fairly long day but worth while.
Great value for money! Great Team and...
Stephanie G
, Oct 2010
Great value for money! Great Team and great time with the Dolphins!!!! Do not hesitate!!!
Excellent tour! Not only was it great...
Gustavo B
, Jan 2010
Excellent tour! Not only was it great that the driver picked us up from our hostal but he was very informative and knowledgable about the area as we drove to Akaroa. Non-stop chat-box. He stopped to allow us to take nice pictures on the side of the road. The day was perfect for seeing dolphins. We swam in a pod of about 18 dolphins at one time. Wetsuits make floating almost effortless and the cold water tolerable. One of the best part of our whole trip.
Swimming with the dolphins was amazing...
Amanda K
, Dec 2009
Swimming with the dolphins was amazing, the driver between Christchurch and Akaroa was very nice and professional. The duration of the trip was perfect.
Swimming with the dolphins in their...
Leah T
, Dec 2009
Swimming with the dolphins in their natural habitat was amazing! I would rate this the best thing that I have done out of all my traveling over the years.
Swimming with the dolphins was a great...
Caroline C
, Oct 2009
Swimming with the dolphins was a great experience and both the people and the tour guide were very friendly. The only issue was that the swim did not take place in the harbour but the open ocean. It was very rough and difficult to swim when we went, even though I am a confident swimmer. It was also very cold, even with wetsuits. I would say the tour is more suited for strong swimmers, and not to bring children under 12 to 14 depending on their swimming ability. The dolphins were very curious and friendly... overall an amazing experience!
Staff were excellent, wetsuits were...
Susan A
, Dec 2008
Staff were excellent, wetsuits were warm, dolphins were beautiful and came really close - the only reason I give this three stars and not four is because I did another one in Kaikoura that was even better, but if I had not and this was my only chance to swim with the dolphins, I would be totally happy with this experience. It was professional yet friendly. Good work. One tip, which the Kaikoura people did to give them the edge - they had a defogging spray to put inside the masks to keep them clear, and it really worked. Made Kaikoura that little bit better and easier, but it was still great in Akaroa.
INCREIBLE!!!! Nadar con delfines en...
Fernando D
, Jan 2018
INCREIBLE!!!! Nadar con delfines en Akaroa fue una experiencia inolvidable!!! El agua no ayuda porque estaba fria pero los trajes de neoprene ayudan bastante. Es totalmente inolvidable como experiencia

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